Part 2: A Lesson in Rejection, Back to Reading and a Very Sentimental Doorstop
What I failed to mention in Part 1, was that in the Spring, I had started submitting my short stories and poems to literary magazines…and folks? I must have gotten upwards of 50 rejections. One after another. “Thank you so much for your submission, but…” “We regret to share that your work isn’t quite what we’re…” “Thank you for querying our magazine, but at present we’re not…” Yeah. A drawer-full of rejections. Ouch. I won’t lie. It hurts. Bad.
So, when I said “Kaput?” I meant “Kaput.” By June 2012, I decided I must not have any talent and I gave up. I stopped writing in June and with all of the extra time I had, I started a diet and focused my attention on that instead. And something SUPER fun to note? (Not.) Since many of those magazines took their time reading my work, the rejections continued all summer long. On the sunny side, I dug in my heels and lost about 40 lbs (that’ll show ’em!) I also decided to visit my good friend Susan in D.C. to wish her a Happy 40th and meet her baby, Lucy.
Taking the train to D.C. changed my life.
My friend Shannon had told me about the Fifty Shades books and I had turned up my out-of-joint nose at them, but clandestinely downloaded them to my Kindle (which I had received in May for Mother’s Day, but had yet to use…I hadn’t read a book in eons.) I also downloaded Lisa Kleypas’ Friday Harbor series. Thus armed for six hours down and six hours back with six new books, I set forth to Washington.
I finished the Kleypas duo on the train down and in my hotel room. I finished Fifty Shades of Grey on the way home, utterly captivated, and was basically out of commission for days and days, completely obsessed with the next two. And just like that, I was hooked on the craft again. I couldn’t wait to sit down at my computer (well, at George’s computer – we were still sharing one desktop at that point) and write another short story.
I started writing on Wed, Aug 15th. A story quickly turned into a novel and I finished my first book, It’s You on Fri, Aug 31st, three days before my 40th birthday. It’s You was a 280-page, 75,000-word beautiful mess about a girl and a boy who kiss once in high school, then reconnect years later. It was a straight contemporary romance, mostly set at Christmas, with some good writing, but myriad problems. It was wholly and completely unpublishable. I didn’t know that so I queried 12 agents…and the rejections came pouring in once again…
(What’s that? You want to read an excerpt from It’s You? Er, um, okay…but I warn you…I WARN YOU…it’s a doorstop.)
(Tune in for Part 3 tomorrow!)
An Excerpt from the ORIGINAL manuscript of It’s You by Katy Regnery
Darcy found Jack in the kitchen drying the last of the dessert dishes, and stacking them neatly on the counter. She watched him for a moment from the doorway, touched that he would pitch in to help. It would be a very, very chilly day in hell before her ex-husband, Stephen, would condescend to wash or wipe a dish. Jack’s tall frame at the sink made her heart open like a flower; made her wonder if all of her silly fantasies from this morning were somehow okay. He had taken off his blazer, so she could see the muscles move in his back as he worked in spare movements. She leaned against the doorway, resting her head on the molding, watching him. It seems I’m cursed to always be watching you from the shadows, Jack, she thought to herself, with a wistful chuckle.
He looked over to see her standing in the doorway, and his face broke into a sheepish grin. “I just thought I’d – you know, help out. Lucy fell asleep watching TV and I came across a few dishes that needed to be finished…” He trailed off, gesturing to the stack with his dishtowel.
“I see,” said Darcy, as she licked her lips and lowered her chin. She approached him slowly, but directly, cat-like in intensity, never letting go of his eyes. He swallowed and furrowed his brow, totally thrown off by her decisive path, questions vibrant in his eyes. He was mesmerized, his breathing heavy and intense, and he stepped back twice anticipating her. They were toe to toe, and she watched him swallow once, before lifting her eyes. His tongue flicked out nervously to lick his lips, and he stared at her, a mix of confusion and arousal.
“But, I think,” she started, in a low, smoky voice, reaching behind him slowly, deliberately, grazing his waist with the back of her palm, “that you missed a spot.”
Suddenly she was holding up a dessert plate with a small smudge of chocolate left in the middle. There was laughter in her eyes, and her shoulders trembled with suppressed giggles as she stepped back and leaned against the sink smiling at him.
He exhaled a little too loudly, which turned into a chuckle, as he relaxed. He ran his hand through his hair. “You had me there for a minute,” his voice was husky and a little uneven.
“Did I?” she asked innocently, cocking her head to the side.
She better quit it, he thought, heat seeping into his face, and other places. She better cut it out or she’s going to get more than she bargained for.
“Well, now,” he breathed, his voice a little thicker than usual, still regaining his composure. “Who’s a little minx?”
Leaning against the sink with her elbows resting on the counter and her chest pushed out, Darcy tried to pull off a sexy shrug, but it wasn’t a practiced move – or very smooth in its delivery. It looked more like a shoulder spasm, which made her start giggling again, and broke the tension. He suddenly found himself chuckling at her silly antics. He shook his head, and folded the dishtowel on the counter. She certainly kept things interesting. He couldn’t remember the last time someone really caught him off-guard or surprised him, and it was incredibly exciting.
“So, your mom told me you’re going to fix up the cottage in back.”
“Yup. That’s the plan.” She crossed her arms over her chest, all business now. “We’ll see how far I get.”
“You know, I do a little carpentry in my spare time…”
“A carpenter-lawyer?” she mused. “Isn’t that an unlikely combination?”
He shrugged. “Probably. But, I enjoy it. I mean, it’s just a hobby, but I did a lot of work on Lucy’s and my house.” He winked at her, teasing. “You’re welcome to come over and check out my work.”
She raised her eyebrows and grinned. “Just might do that.”
“Maybe on Saturday, while Lucy has her lesson, I can take a look at things. See if I can give you a hand?”
She turned from where she was leaning against the sink and faced him squarely. With the sweetest, most genuine smile, she accepted. “Wow. Jack, that’s so nice. I’d appreciate it.”
He locked in on her eyes and leaned slowly towards her, flicking his gaze between her eyes and her mouth. He licked his lips, as she had done before. She froze in place, nervous and excited all at once. He noticed her eyes dilate until they were blacker than green as he leaned closer, saw her chest rise up with a quick intake of breath, then felt it catch as he grazed her cheek with his. Her mouth was slightly open and she closed her eyes and whimpered softly as she felt his hot breath on her ear. He whispered, “It’s a date.”
Then he leaned back quickly, regarding her with merriment and it was his turn to chuckle, as she opened her eyes, exhaled, and relaxed against the side of the sink, her eyes wide and black. “Not fair,” she murmured, hot and bothered, breathing deeply.
“All’s fair, Minx…” he tossed over his shoulder, swaggering to the TV room, to wake up a sleepy Lucy and take her home.